Family center to celebrate expansion

March 20, 1995|By Tia Matthews | Tia Matthews,Sun Staff Writer

For months, the Park Heights Family Support Center has wedged job preparation programs, support groups and child-care services into cramped, rented quarters in Northwest Baltimore.

But that has changed.

Today, the center will hold an open house to celebrate its new 10-room Pimlico Road complex -- a major improvement from the single room it had rented in the Delta Community Center on Springhill Avenue. The new building -- equipped with modern kitchens -- will allow the center to offer improved nutrition programs and other services, officials say.

"The whole purpose of our program is to use our strengths to help our people become self-sufficient," said Charlotte Mason, director of the center in the 4200 block of Pimlico Road. "We want our people to come out educated, independent and employed."

She added, "This building has given us so much flexibility. We actually have rooms and now we can plan groups that meet simultaneously. This is something we couldn't do before."

And better nutrition classes are available because SD Kitchens, a Pikesville kitchen and bathroom dealer, gave more than $20,000 in materials to the center. The company set up a dishwasher, range and refrigerator, as well as cabinets, counters and sinks.

The center, which aids more than 100 area families, is an extension of the Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland. That organization assists participants with tips for parents, employment, health and other services.

Latoya Frazier, 20, a participant in the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) program, said nutrition lessons would help her care for her two sons, who stay in the center while she attends classes. "My boys have medical problems and good nutrition would help their lead levels come down."

The children's room is decorated with paper kites -- the youngsters' handiwork -- and includes places to prepare and eat snacks, a section for infants to sleep, and a large play area.

Chawn Harris brought his 1-year-old daughter, Melina Harris, to the center for the first time Thursday.

"I came here to learn more about my daughter and to get more experience and information about raising her," he said. He enjoyed seeing his daughter play with other children, and said he would look into the center's other services.

The center has had its greatest success with the General Educational Development program; about 57 people have registered for the 40-week program.

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